On January 18, New York City Councilmembers Laurie Cumbo and Jimmy Van Bramer celebrate the passage of an historic arts legislative package that would significantly increase funding to one of the City’s oldest public arts program while also make it more accessible to people of all backgrounds.
“Today we passed the largest package of bills ever in the history of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, and the first reform to the Percent for Art program since it was created under Mayor Koch.”
Intros 1295, 1296, and 1297 together upgrade the Percent for Art Program, an initiative administered by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, requiring the allotment of one percent of the budget for eligible City-funded construction projects is spent on artwork for City facilities.
“My legislation is an opportunity to diversify participation within the Percent for Art program and expand our city’s investment in artists who can transform public spaces into canvases that will showcase their creativity and beautify our neighborhoods,” said Councilmember Cumbo, chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues and member of the Committee on Cultural Affairs.
Since its inception in 1982, the Percent for Art Program has been responsible for the installation of nearly 300 public art projects, commissions totaling more than $41 million. Currently, more than seventy artist commissions are in progress. However, despite its continued growth, funding for this program has not been increased in the past 35 years to meet cost of living or materials increases.
Cumbo’s legislative package effectively increases the expenditure for works of art projects from $400,000 to $900,000– a 125 percent increase– while the expenditures for works of art in any fiscal year will increase from $1.5 million to $4 million, an increase by 167 percent!
“This unprecedented increase in the Program’s 35-year history is momentous and an incredible victory for our city,” Cumbo said.
Aside from increasing the amount of money that can be spent on construction site public projects, the bills also will increase community input by requiring community members to sit on Percent for Art panels; and increase outreach and transparency by requiring DCLA to collect data on who receives commissions, and mandating greater community outreach efforts that will alert local artists and in multiple languages.
“Today we passed the largest package of bills ever in the history of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, and the first reform to the Percent for Art program since it was created under Mayor Koch,”said City Council Majority Leader and Cultural Affairs Committee Chair Jimmy Van Bramer. “These pieces of legislation will bring more transparency and accountability to the public art process and strengthen the programs that help make our city the cultural capital of the world.
“New York City is better with more public art, more ambitious public art, and public art in every neighborhood. That is what this package will accomplish.”